Contractors & suppliers have strong lien rights in Connecticut. If a contractor or supplier isn’t paid on an Connecticut job, they can turn to filing a lien to speed up payment and protect themselves. However, there are specific requirements and rules that must be followed. Here are 5 essential things you need to know about Connecticut’s mechanics lien law.
1) Notice Requirements Are Complex
Connecticut does not require any notice prior to performing work on the project. However, the general contractor is allowed to file an affidavit with the town clerk in the town in which the property is located. If the affidavit is properly filed within 15 days after commencement of work, subcontractors and suppliers are required to serve the original contractor (in addition to the property owner) with a copy of any notice of intent to file a lien.
All lien claimants who do not have a direct contractual relationship with the property owner must provide a Notice of Intent to Lien to the owner (and the original contractor if an affidavit was filed with the town clerk) within the 90-day period in which the Certificate of Lien must be filed, and before filing the Certificate of Lien.
2) Know Your Deadlines to File and Foreclose on Your Connecticut Mechanics Lien
In order to be valid, a Connecticut mechanic’s lien must be recorded within 90 days of the last day on which the lien claimant performed services or furnished materials.
An action to enforce a mechanic’s lien in Connecticut must be initiated no later than one year from the date on which the lien was recorded. Failure to initiate a foreclosure action by this deadline will result in the lien being extinguished.
3) Know Who Can File a Connecticut Mechanics Lien
Connecticut law requires the use of a two-part test in order to determine if a party has mechanics lien rights. The “physical enhancement test” requires that the services or materials must enhance the property physically, lay the groundwork for same, or be an essential part in the scheme of physical improvement. In addition, the labor or materials must have been provided in the construction, raising, removal, or repair of a building or its appurtenances, or in the improvement or subdivision of any plot of land. The value of rental equipment is allowed.
There is no specific requirement in Connecticut that a lien claimant must be licensed to file a valid mechanic’s lien in most cases. However, on residential projects, only registered contractors who comply with the Home Improvement Act or New Home Construction Contractors Act have lien rights with the exception that licensed professionals are not required to comply with the HIA or NHCCA when they are performing the work for which they are licensed.
4) Filing Your Connecticut Mechanics Lien is Not the End – Make Sure You Send Notice of the Recorded Certificate
Connecticut requires that, no later than 30 days after the Certificate of Lien is filed with the town clerk, a true and attested copy of the certificate must be served on the owner of the property.
Service, in this case, is defined as follows:
– If the owner or original contractor resides in the same town as the property service may be “by any indifferent person, state marshal or another proper officer, by leaving with such owner or original contractor or at such owner’s or the original contractor’s usual place of abode”.
– If the owner or original contractor does not reside in the same town as the property, the indifferent person, state marshal or other proper officer may effect service “by mailing a true and attested copy of the notice by registered or certified mail to the owner or original contractor at the place where such owner or the original contractor resides.
– If such copy is returned unclaimed, notice to such owner or original contractor shall be given by publication.”
5) A Connecticut Mechanics Lien Can Trump Mortgages – Depending on Date
In Connecticut, mechanics liens have priority over any encumbrance originating after the materials and/or labor giving rise to the mechanics lien was furnished to the property. Note that, in Connecticut, the mechanics lien privilege arises when the labor and/or material is furnished, not when the lien is recorded.
Therefore, in Connecticut, a mechanic’s lien takes precedence over any other encumbrance that originate after services or materials were provided to the property, including mortgages. So, a mortgage that was executed but not recorded until after services were performed is subsequent in priority to a valid mechanic’s lien, and a mortgage that was both executed and recorded prior to the furnishing if labor and/or materials to the project has priority over the mechanics lien.
All mechanic’s liens are of the same priority, and if the total amount of several mechanic’s liens exceeds the lienable fund, the lien claims may be apportioned.